By Katie Lannan, STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE


STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, May 15, 2019 (State House News Service) – A total of 497 people, or more than five a day, died of confirmed or suspected opioid overdoses in Massachusetts during the first three months of 2019, according to the Department of Public Health.

Figures the department released Thursday also showed a 4 percent decline in the opioid overdose death rate from the 2,100 recorded in 2016 to the 2,033 recorded in 2018.

The DPH said there were “particularly notable declines in some pockets of the state,” singling out Plymouth County and the city of Brockton.

Fentanyl was present in 89 percent of the 2018 deaths where a toxicology screen occurred, the department said. The presence of prescription drugs in overdose cases trended downward from 2014 through 2016 and has remained stable since then.

Meanwhile, the presence of some stimulants has been rising. Cocaine was present in about 39 percent of opioid overdose deaths in the fourth quarter of 2018, and amphetamines in about 9 percent, the DPH said.

“While we remain encouraged that opioid-related overdose deaths have declined over the last two years, the epidemic continues to present very real challenges across Massachusetts that are made worse by the presence of fentanyl, cocaine and amphetamines,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement.

 

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